Teacher gets new title: dance studio owner
Sarah Seifert McArdle hopes the transition from Nallia School of Dance to Sarah's Studio of Dance in Basehor will be a seamless one.
And so far, it has been.
When McArdle's longtime dance teacher, Kathi Nallia, announced last winter that she wanted to hand over the reins of Nallia School of Dance to her, it came as a welcomed surprise.
"I definitely wanted to do it," McArdle said. "I was really excited."
The Piper High School and Emporia State University graduate has taken lessons from Nallia at her Shawnee studio since 1982 and taught dance at both studios for 12 years.
But while dancing and teaching dance were always passions for her, McArdle had already begun her career as a first-grade teacher at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School. The prospect of owning a studio seemed farfetched.
"I thought of it more like a dream," McArdle said about owning a studio. "But teaching dance made me want to be a teacher because I like working with kids. I'm most excited to be able to share my passion for dance with other students."
McArdle will share the responsibilities of owning the studio with her mother, Mary Ann Seifert, who has been Nallia's office manager for 13 years. While McArdle will serve as head dance instructor, Seifert will handle the business aspect of the studio.
"I think she just felt like we were a team because I had managed the studio and Sarah was a teacher," Seifert said about Nallia's decision to offer them ownership of the Basehor studio. "She just felt like I could do the business end of it and Sarah would cover the artistic part of it."
Seifert also said that while Nallia will continue ownership at the Shawnee location, they will think of the two dance studios as "sister studios." For example, both studios' Dance Electric Performing and Competition Troupes will be combining to perform a joint show Friday at the Wyandotte County Fair.
A special gift between McArdle and Nallia also bonds the two studios. When Nallia announced the decision to hand the key to the studio over to McArdle and Seifert in a ceremony during the studio's recital last spring, McArdle surprised Nallia with an interpretive painting.
The painting shows Nallia standing on a stage with an image of her father, who died a few years ago and served as a great inspiration to her, shown above her. The images of three dancers that represent those students Nallia has inspired over the years surround her. A print of the painting hangs in both studios, McArdle said, which always reminds her to keep the inspiration going.
"It was basically my way of showing her how many students she inspires through her love of dance," McArdle said.
And, continuing to inspire young dancers is one of McArdle's main goals as the studio's new co-owner. The first step to achieving that goal, she said, is making sure the ownership transition is smooth and the studio atmosphere remains consistent. McArdle will continue to use the same staff of six instructors, in which a few are also shared with the Shawnee studio. She will also continue teaching at GRES.
The studio's interior recently received a new paint color, a new sign was hung on the outside of the building and a few new classes have been added to next year's schedule, but for the most part McArdle said she will choose to tread lightly on the already well-established curriculum.
"Right now I'm proud of the program Kathi has developed," she said. "I'm going to continue that, but only help to add more to what she has established."
McArdle and Seifert will host an open house at Sarah's Studio of Dance, 14500-H Parallel Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, August 4 for current and prospective students to check out the studio's new look. Games, a moonwalk, face painting and refreshments along with enrollment and new class information will be available for guests. McArdle said it will be a way to introduce any small changes to students before classes begin in late August.
"Overall I just think the dance studio should be a fun and exciting place for the students to come and grow," she said. "It's important that every student feels important and wants to be here."